According to an old Yiddish saying: “Old age, to the unlearned, is winter. But to the learned, it is harvest time.”
All week that bit of wisdom has been running through my head.
Yes, I do know why. It’s because all week I have been with my 98-year-old father. He needs so much care… more than I can give by myself. I can’t lift him alone. I can’t catch his breath for him. I can’t make him eat when he isn’t hungry, or drink water when he isn’t thirsty. I can’t still his anxieties. And I cannot give his questions answers that satisfy him.
But I can tuck him into bed the way he likes—with his toes covered, and the blankets secure but not too tight. And I can kiss him and tell him how much I love him. And I can tell him funny stories of my five siblings and myself as little kids, though I’ve told those stories many times before. And I can listen to his stories, though I could easily recite them with him. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s the first time we hear a funny family story or the 100th time. They are always hilarious to us! I can sing old hymns with him, too…or to him when he is overcome with tears. And I can thank him for being the very best father he could be.
My father, born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, gifted me with a wonderful gift of wisdom and experience, and also a rich faith. I can show my gratitude by becoming a Wisdom Keeper myself and passing that legacy on to those who look at me and only see advancing age. We need Wisdom Keepers in our families and in our homes. We desperately need them in our churches, too, to remind us of the road traveled by those who went before. And we badly need them in our country where wisdom seems to be in such short supply.
We need Wisdom Keepers lest we forget.
“One starts to get young at 60, but then it’s too late.”